Raised on a hog farm in Sigourney, Iowa, Joe Parcell, agricultural economics professor at MU, decided to step away from his agricultural roots and study mathematics at the University of Northern Iowa After finishing his undergrad in mathematics, however, Parcell did not see a career in math as the right fit.
“After finishing my undergrad, I went back to school at Kansas State to study agricultural economics because I knew I wanted to work in ag,” Parcell said. “I was then in higher education for 10 years until I finished my B.A., M.A. and Ph.D.”
Like many students today, Parcell worked to gain extra income and experience.
“Along the way, I worked part-time and summer for entities such as, Siegel’s Jewelry and Loan, TIP Rural Electric, various farmers, Louis Rich Turkey and a couple of different construction firms building culverts and putting in water lines,” Parcell said.
After completing his Ph.D. at Kansas State University, Parcell came to MU. He now works full-time for MU’s College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources in the agricultural and applied economics department.
“I do many different things for the University involving economics,” Parcell said. “I teach class and work one-on-one with the University’s clients.”
Teaching and working with MU clients are not the only professions Parcell takes part in. He also runs a family farm in Iowa and a couple of small businesses in Kansas City.
“It’s impressive that he can balance many work roles with his family life,” said Alice Roach, friend and employee of Parcell at Value Ag.
Value Ag and Dietary Innovations are the two businesses that Parcell established in 2006, and now runs.
“It’s my drive. I like to start up new things,” Parcell said. “When I see an opportunity, I like to jump on it.”
Value Ag is an economic consulting firm, regionally focused on plant-based proteins, located in Kansas City, Mo.
“Working for Joe at Value Ag, LLC, has been a good fit for me,” Roach said. “I’ve appreciated that he’s given me a lot of latitude to be creative and learn on my own.”
Dietary Innovations is a bio-analytical agriculture management company that helps consumers get confidential analysis on a product or product idea.
“I created these firms after majoring in economics and realizing the questions people were seeking information about in a confidential way,” Parcell said.
Dietary Innovations and Value Ag are small businesses employing three to four people. Roach mentioned that while working with Parcell at Value Ag, she has noticed the enormous amount of creativity knowledge he consistently uses in his practices.
“Joe is great at brainstorming. It seems like his mind is going and thinking all the time,” Roach said. “His academic experience gives him a lot of curiosity and theoretic understanding, and because of his consulting work, he appreciates the importance of applying knowledge to address challenges and opportunities in the agriculture industry.”
In addition to his work, Parcell also loves spending time at his family farm.
“If I am not in Columbia, at the office or with my girls, I am in Iowa at the farm,” Parcell said.
Sigourney, Iowa, has a population of 2,033 and is a three and a half hour drive away from Columbia.
“I travel back and forth to Iowa to raise and harvest our family’s crops each year,” Parcell said.
Parcell and his wife also have a farm in Fayette, Mo.
The Midwest is where his business and family life are focused, but global travel is another component of life that has brought great understanding and fulfillment to Parcell.
“I have traveled to China, Thailand, Philippines, Indonesia, India, South Korea, Vietnam, Taiwan, Singapore, Hong Kong, United Kingdom and Costa Rica,” Parcell said.
Parcell’s world travels have been for the University, studying agriculture and working with economics clients and also for his consulting firms.
Thomas Stillmann, an MU sophomore studying agribusiness management, is a student in Parcell’s agriculture marketing course. Stillman liked hearing about Parcell’s experiences across the globe in class.
“Parcell has been an interesting teacher to learn from,” Stillmann said. “One thing I enjoy about his class is how he incorporates his travels into teaching.”
Parcell has each of his students do an eight-page report on a commodity from another country. This report allows students to study agriculture in another country and then analyze the information found.
“It has been interesting to study the economics of other countries that he has been to,” Stillman said.
In addition to traveling the world, Parcell enjoys traveling the U.S. with his family.
“I love the mountains, ” Parcell said. “I have taken my wife and girls up to the Rockies a couple times. … I love spending time with my family.”